Friday, October 21, 2011

Natilla con Vanilla de Papantla

This is a traditional a vanilla dish as it gets.  It comes from Papantla, Veracruz, the modern heart of Totonac territory; they are, after all, the group that domesticated the vanilla vine and gave the world these fragrant pods.  This is published in Patricia Quintana's important regional work A Taste Of Mexico, page 146.  The picture above is from a restaurant selling this dish in Papantla.

Vanilla Milk Custard, Papantla Style

1 1/2 qts whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean
2 tbsp. Mexican vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp. butter

Ground Mexican cinnamon for garnish (canela)

1. Put milk, vanilla bean and the vanilla extract in a heavy saucepan.  Gently bring to a boil (my note:  watch!  Do not let this boil over).

2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick (like syrup).  Add the cornstarch and mix well.  Add a little of the hot vanilla milk to temper the egg mixture.  Beat and add a little more, beat again.  Then pour in  the rest of the hot milk and mix well.

3.  Pour into heavy saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly.  Cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Add the butter and remove from heat and stir it in as it melts.  Let this stand and cook until a skin forms.  Peel the skin off and pour the custard into large goblets or pretty serving dishes and refrigerate to 2 to 3 hours.

4.  To serve, sprinkle with the powdered cinnamon.  Serve with dessert spoon.


One traditional variation is to serve the custard over cooked prunes as a sauce.

A different traditional garnish with chopped or ground almonds.

You may serve this like Brulee, place sugar on top and torch.

You can add fruit to the custard, like raisins.  Skinned grapes are a great addition if you want to serve it like Brulee.

These are the Papantla Flyers, Totonac performing a very ancient  fertility ritual, that is also performed during the Dias de los Muertos (Days Of The Dead), coming up soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment